In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there is a plastic island that has been growing consistently since the 1990s. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, as it has come to be known, is a trash vortex of epic proportions: 1.6 million square kilometres. This marine mass of plastic, located between California and Hawaii, has been created by our own carelessness. The world now produces over 300 million tonnes of plastic every year, and the COVID-19 global pandemic has created a dramatic surge in reliance on single-use plastics, further exacerbating the ocean plastic pollution.
To help combat this environmental crisis, a few Vancouver-based companies have joined forces to create sustainably made, reusable, non-medical masks to avoid contributing to ocean plastic. RIEL WARDROBE has partnered with Plastic Bank, a social enterprise that monetizes plastic recycling, for the [MSK] Project, an initiative creating 100 per cent cotton made-in-Canada masks. Every mask purchased prevents 3.5 kilograms of plastic waste from entering the ocean, the equivalent of 175 half-litre plastic bottles. “As a generation, we can foresee how this will impact our future, and it is vital we partner with companies like Plastic Bank to protect our oceans and planet now,” says Tyler Preston, co-owner of RIEL WARDROBE, who founded the apparel company with university classmate Ryan Nassab.
The message “This [MSK] prevented 3.5kg from entering our oceans” emblazoned on the mask was conceived by fellow 18-year-old and friend Noah Kent, who operates an upstart multimedia company called Octane Collective. “Young people are our champions and our future, and RIEL WARDROBE is the perfect example of what can be done with great minds,” says Noah Katz of Plastic Bank. “They are creating immediate impact by helping the world stop ocean plastic while improving the lives of collector communities.”
The World Health Organization has advised the wearing of masks as we find our way living in conjunction with COVID-19. As such, it’s time to build your mask wardrobe.
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